Open Your Ears [Of Monsters And Men]
By Moira Chambers - @mochambaz
Having performed at well-known music festivals South by Southwest and Sasquatch this past Spring, Of Monsters and Men are surely rising to the top of the indie-folk scene here in the U.S. The group hails from Iceland, where they are known for winning Músíktilraunir, a national “battle of the bands”, in 2010. The group we see and hear today is actually a collaboration of artists from Músíktilraunir, two of which joined the group after the competition. The group gained instant popularity in the U.S. for their song “Little Talks”, which debuted in a KEXP radio station Living Room Session.
So what’s to love? The band is made up of six talented musicians, each of which plays equally enthusiastically on every track. While many confuse the band as acoustic, due to their KEXP live sessions, they use an assortment of instruments (i.e. drums, accordian, tambourine, trumpet, shakers, bass, and multiple guitarists) which each adds a distinctive element to their collaborative sound. It’s the passionate, acoustic combination of sounds from this array of instruments that makes Of Monsters and Men so refreshing to hear.
The voices of singers Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson are both unique and powerful independently, as well as when fused together in harmony. Hilmarsdóttir and Þórhallsson harmonize beautifully in tracks “Dirty Paws” and “King and Lionheart”. In other tracks, like “Mountain Sound”, all other band members act as a chorus, resulting in a sound similar to that of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Their intense, catchy vocals have also caused them to be related to Arcade Fire, but I think that OMAM’s Icelandic melodies and enthusiastic jamming sets them apart.
Of Monsters and Men is a unique indie chamber pop, folk rock, whatever you choose to call it, really, band that should be on everyone’s radar. I recommend investing in their debut album “My Head is an Animal”, and checking out their field recording by NPR and KEXP at Sasquatch Music Festival, here: